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Balloon Powered Car

Balloon Powered Car Project

Important Guidelines and Information:

Balloon Powered Car Project - this is an in-class partner project with a partner PowerPoint presentation. At the end, you will also create a Podcast Project Summary. Materials are gathered from group members to build the balloon powered car. The goal is to apply what we've learned about mechanical interactions by building a rocket car that minimizes friction and drag. During testing, we will calculate average speed and take many measurements. We then will analyze the interactions and forces involved in our cars. The most challenging aspect of this project is collaborating with others. Every group member must contribute their ideas BEFORE construction of their rocket car. Another challenge is the actual construction of the car. You will run in to some technical issues (car turns, ballon drags on ground, parts fall off your car, or it just doesn't work at all!) that will require more collaboration with your partner to solve.

Project Sequence:

    • Online Balloon Car Research - Topic Forums
    • Project Proposal
    • Initial Designs
      • Materials Collection
      • Partner Collaboration
    • Construction
      • Materials
      • Procedures
      • Challenges and Technical Issues
    • Testing
    • Data Processing using MS Excel
      • Graphing Distance vs. Time
      • Graphing Speed vs. Time
    • Data Analysis and Conclusions
      • Topic Forums - Sharing Results
      • Data and Graph Analysis
      • Create a PowerPoint Presentation
      • Interactions and Energy Transfers Analysis
      • Forces Analysis
      • Conclusion
    • Podcast to BROADCAST TO THE WORLD!

Project Rules/Guidelines:

  • You will be given only two 9 inch ballons to power your car.
  • The car must only be powered by two balloons.
  • The car must be made from simple materials, nothing prefabricated.
  • The car may not leave the ground and have at least 3 wheels

Car Testing:

  • Measure a distance of 5 meters.
  • One car will race at a time. One team member prepares the car at the starting line.
  • Cars take off at "Go!" Timers start.
  • Time will be taken twice at 1m, 2m, 3m, 4m, 5m, and at car stop (total run time).
  • Cars continue pass the finish line until they stop.
  • Measure total distance traveled.
  • Each car will be allowed three trial runs only if necessary. This allows a second or third chance if the car turns, balloon pinches, etc. If the car makes a successful run, we will only use this data.
  • Grading for car performance: less than 1 meter: 0 points, 1 meter: 100 points, 2 meters: 200 points, 3 meters: 300 points, 4 meters: 400 points, 5 meters or more: 500 points.

Assignment Document 1:



Name___________________________ Period:_______

Your Testable Question


How does the design of a balloon-powered car maximize its forward force while minimizing backward forces to achieve distance and speed?

Your Hypothesis

Independent Variable (What you are purposely changing?)

 Dependent Variable (The change that you measure)

Controlled Variables (What stays the same during the experiment?)

Explain how you are going to test your question.  How are you going to obtain quantitative data (what tool/instrument will you use to make measurements)?   Summarize your procedures.  Attach another piece of paper if necessary.

Draw a preliminary design of the car you will build.

List ALL the materials and tools you will need to build your car.

Explain how THIS design will maximize forward force from the balloons to achieve speed and distance when tested.

Explain how THIS design will minimize backward forces (mainly friction) achieve speed and distance when tested.


Assignment Document 2:

DATA ANALYSIS      Names:_____________________ Per.____


Using the data collected in class and your knowledge and experience of forces and energy transfers complete the following tasks:


Extra Credit: Include a photo of your car HERE


TASK 1 - Create a Distance vs. Time data table for your car.  Only include 0-5 meter data.


Distance vs. Time Data Table

Time (seconds)

Distance (meters)















TASK 2 - Create a Distance vs. Time graph for your car.  Only include 0-5 meter data.

Be sure to use scatter graph with lines in Excel.



TASK 3 - Create a Speed vs. Time data table for your car.  Only include 0-5 meter data.


Speed vs. Time Data Table

Distance (m)

Time (sec)

Speed (m/s)





















TASK 4 - Create a Speed vs. Time graph for your car.  Only include 0-5 meter data.

Be sure to use scatter graph with lines in Excel.



TASK 5 - Distance vs. Time Graph Analysis


During this distance:

Car is speeding up, slowing down, or constant speed:

Reason (look at the slope):


0 to 1 meter





1 to 2 meters





2 to 3 meters





3 to 4 meters





4 to 5 meters







TASK 6 – Create 3 Energy Transfer Diagrams of the interactions involved when your car was in motion.
















TASK 7 – Create a Force Arrow Diagram for each 0m, 1m, 2m, 3m, 4m, and 5m.  I will do the 0m and 1m for you J  Be sure to adjust the force arrows depending on the associated forces.





TASK 8 – Write a one-two paragraph conclusion that answers our project questions: What balloon powered car design will have the greatest average speed over 5 meters?  What balloon powered car design will travel the greatest distance?